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The Churchill Archives Centre has once again served as a valuable resource for the creative industries — this time for the blockbuster Hollywood hit Darkest Hour, nominated for six Oscars.
Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and follows his early days as prime minister when Hitler was closing in on Britain during World War II. The Churchill Archives and the expertise of its staff provided an important resource for the firm's research team. In addition, historian, Churchill Fellow and former Keeper of the Churchill Archives Centre Dr Piers Brendon, was asked by the film's director, Joe Wright, to provide cast members with a biographical analysis of Churchill and some of the historical background to the crisis engulfing the country at the end of May 1940.
Speaking about the Archives Centre's involvement, Director Allen Packwood said:
“The Churchill Archives provided some key information for the research team working on Darkest Hour; a fact that was recognised by scriptwriter Anthony McCarten when interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. On the back of the film, Allen Packwood was asked to write an article for the BBC History Magazine on the real events underpinning the screenplay. Spoiler alert – It is certainly true that Foreign Secretary Halifax wanted to investigate peace terms in the desperate days at the end of May 1940, even if the debates took place above ground and not in the Cabinet War Rooms as depicted (the German bombers had not yet arrived), and you have to ignore the dramatic licence that allowed Churchill to be shown riding the underground.”
Allen attended the London premiere last December with his daughter Isobel. Darkest Hour was released in UK cinemas on 12 January 2018 and has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Actor in a Leading Role.
The Churchill Archives Centre lies at the heart of Churchill College's campus. But why is it there and what does it contain? This CHUtalk by Director of the Archives Centre, Allen Packwood shares some of the secrets of the archive.